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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Osi backs off comments -- sort of

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora made it clear Sunday that he was unhappy about his backup status and hinted that he may have played his final home game with the team. On Wednesday, Umenyiora clarified his remarks and expressed hope that he would return to the Giants in 2010. But he would like to see a couple of changes before that happens.

"Frustration, man, definitely a whole bunch of frustration," said Umenyiora. "I think given the fact that it was the last game at Giants Stadium, all the things that our predecessors have done there, all the things we’ve done there as a team, all the things I’ve done there as a player, to see the team play like that, especially the defense, not being able to go out there and help more or play as much as I’d like, it definitely made me angry and frustrated and I came in and just reacted without much thought."

If Umenyiora had stopped at that point, everyone may have been ready to move on down the road. But it's obvious that while he may have a better handle on his emotions, he still expects some changes to be made.

"I’m not a third-down player, I’m not a third-down rusher," Umenyiora told reporters. "I play the run and I’ve played the run this year. I think I had a bad game against Denver -- a bad quarter against Denver -- and things kind of snowballed from there. But in actuality, who on this team has played excellent every game? Things happen. I cannot take that away from myself because I’m only in on third downs and they say I can’t play the run. That’s absolute BS because I can and there’s film there to prove it."

Umenyiora is a proud player who has succeeded in this league, so I can understand his frustration. I can also tell you that general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin don't deal particularly well with ultimatums from players. You can ask Jeremy Shockey about that last statement.

At the end of the day, I believe that Umenyiora thinks that he was shown up by the coaching staff. I know that a couple other players were benched, but Umenyiora had the highest profile. Like any player in his situation, Umenyiora is probably also worried about how this will affect his market value. If the Giants took the unlikely step of trying to trade Umenyiora, he would want a new deal. No Pro Bowl-quality player wants to have the perception of not being able to play the run -- and that's why I think Umenyiora's being so vehement in his comments.